Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s conviction the brand’s full self-driving autonomous vehicle technology will be ready by the end of the year is being tested by a federal lawsuit filed in California.
A Tesla Model 3 owner named Jose Alvarez Toledo of San Francisco filed a proposed class action due to the ongoing phantom braking problem in federal court for the Northern District of California, Reuters reported.
In the filing, Alvarez described the experiences as a “frightening and dangerous nightmare.” He further claims the company hurried its Autopilot and Full Self-Driving semi-autonomous technologies to market before they were ready.
“When the sudden unintended braking defect occurs, they turn what is supposed to be a safety feature into a frightening and dangerous nightmare,” said Toledo’s lawsuit, which was filed on Friday in federal court in the northern district of California.
The lawsuit accused Tesla of fraudulently hiding the safety risks associated with Autopilot, breaching its warranties, unfairly profiting from Autopilot and violating California’s unfair competition law.
The lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages for expenses to repair vehicles, diminished value of Tesla cars and for a refund of the added cost attributed to the Autopilot feature, according to the lawsuit, Reuters reported.
The issue with Tesla vehicles and phantom braking — where the vehicle stops suddenly and harshly as if it’s an emergency situation but none exists — is well documented. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened an investigation into more than 400,000 Tesla vehicles due to reports of the issue while Autopilot was engaged.
It covers 2021 and 2022 Tesla Model 3 and Model Y vehicles. However, at the time federal regulators began their investigation, there were 354 complaints about the issue. It more than doubled by early June.
NHTSA said in February the “complainants report that the rapid deceleration can occur without warning, at random, and often repeatedly in a single drive cycle.” One person noted his vehicle went from 80 mph to 69 mph in less than a second, nearly causing him to lose control of his vehicle.